ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota conservation officials have expanded a ban on feeding deer after discovering multiple captive deer infected with chronic wasting disease.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that the state Department of Natural Resources' ban is for more than 10 central and north-central Minnesota counties. It will be in effect until February 2019.

"Feeding bans in central and north-central Minnesota are precautionary," said Lou Cornicelli, the DNR's wildlife research manager. "Wild deer in these areas are not know to have CWD. These feeding bans are a proactive step to keep CWD at bay."

The centeral Minnesota counties involved in the deer feeding ban are:

  • Kandiyohi
  • McCloud
  • Meeker
  • Stearns
  • Wright
  • A portion of Renville County north of U.S. Highway 212.

North-central Minnesota counties affected are:

  • Aitkin
  • Crow Wing
  • Morrison
  • A portion of Cass County south of Minnesota highways 34 and 200
  • A portion of Mille Lacs County north of County Road 11.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal brain illness that affects deer, elk and moose. It's not known to impact human health.

The department says it will conduct testing in the affected counties to determine if the disease has spread from captive deer to wild deer. A department spokesman says not feeding deer will help prevent the spread of the disease.

The department says there's a similar ban for five southeastern Minnesota counties, which will be in effect until June 2018.